Sunday, May 29, 2011

La La

The person I lived with, laughed with, loved with and finally fought with for four years died last night. She was 47.

You'd think since I write for a living that I'd have something simple and profound to say, but I have nothing except this song from one of her favourite singers.

The Tip

Just so you don't think that Alzheimer's is all loss and pathos, it can be funny, too.

Take my mother cornering her priest at the back of the church, handing him 5 bucks and saying, "Here. This is just for you. Buy something for yourself."

I love that she's tipping for services rendered.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When love comes to visit

So it turns to my Ma is in the mid stages of Alzheimer's Disease, too. This after the one-two punch of a severe heart condition and a brain tumour.

I'm re-discovering Alzheimer's ugly truth - that you lose the person you love long before they leave this earth. But I'm also learning that it can intimately acquaint you with love in forms you never thought possible.

If my Mom remembers one thing, I hope it's this.

Love is how I - a committed vegetarian - found myself making meat loaf for her, because I know she likes it.

It informs how I gently remind her that we need to take off all her clothes to take a bath, then stay with her to her soap up, because personal care is one of the first things to go in the middle stages.

Love makes me open the cupboard and quietly throw the food away because she's forgotten that that's what a fridge is for.

Love is what I feel -- well, love and the nervousness of a parent whose child is off to her first day of school -- when I arrange for her to spend Fridays in an adult day program for dementia patients. And pride is what I feel when she comes home brimming with excitement because she has made new friends who are "ordinary people." Translation: people just like her.

My Mom already forgets when I was born. Sometimes she grabs my arm and says, "My daughter" when we're out. I think it helps root her.

But I know the day is coming when she might forget who I am. I hope love comes to visit then, too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Lights

I have to admit to a gushing infatuation with my optometrist.

Aside from being ladylike in the Audrey Hepburn manner, she's tremendously intelligent, compassionate and caring. We often get into quite serious conversations about life, the universe and everything while she's staring down my coke bottle corneas.

Yesterday our talk turned to the weather. Okay, not serious, but the weather as it relates to mood.

You see, we've had a lot of rain and dark days around these parts recently. Several of my co-workers have admitted to feeling unusually depressed.

Seems that many optometrists, who spend their days in dark rooms, regularly suffer from seasonal affective disorder. It would be hard not to feel like a mushroom with your blinds drawn and the lights off for 8 hours a day.

That's when my optometrist pointed to her Happy Light. Twenty minutes with the right UV light can be an effective anti-depressant.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Well, the man known as The Dark Lord among some of my Facebook friends won a sweeping victory in last night's election and is back for a third term in office. Stephen Harper was third time lucky with a majority government.

Despite a mini groundswell of opposition from social media, sites like Shit Harper Did seemed only to preach to the already converted. While "Can this onion ring get more fans than Stephen Harper" got 158,781 fans, only 37,014 people were interested in debating the facts.

Whether it's true or not, the vast majority of Canadians appear to credit Harper for helping us sail through the global economic crisis mostly unscathed. And those that didn't, seemed more than willing to give Jack Layton and his platform of positivity a shot.

One thing's clear, there's going to be a Liberal leadership convention before too long. Michael Ignatieff's Liberals haven't had this few seats since Confederation.

The conservatives, whose campaign posters read, "Michael Ignatieff: He didn't come back for you", must be thinking, "He didn't come back for you. But he's leaving because of you."

Monday, May 2, 2011

No news is good news

Things are not going so well with my Ma these day.

I've been worried about her for some time now. Even moved her closer to me so I could keep an eye on her. But her memory has been fading, her mobility is growing worse and her personality has been changing.

Several appointments, an electrocardiogram and an MRI later, we finally have a diagnosis.

My Mom has severe aortic stenosis -- this is an obstruction of the blood flow across the aortic valve. But this isn't the only thing the tests found. She also has a brain tumour.

Each condition individually is quite serious and would require surgical intervention but together, with the added complication of her age (78) and Type II Diabetes, her doctor isn't very optimistic that surgery is even an option. While he's offering to refer us to cardiac surgeons and neurologists, he says that neither would operate on one condition without the other, which makes everything entirely riskier.

So....not good news at all.

The only up side of any of this is that my mother can't really comprehend what's happening to her.

She doesn't understand the diagnosis at all. In fact, the doctor said to her, "You remember the last time you were here and I told you not to eat so many cookies." She nodded yes. "Well," he said, "I think you can eat as many cookies as you want."

So her big take away from diagnosis day was: "The doctor says I should eat more cookies."

Sometimes the universe protects us.